Welcome to The Nightwatchmen, a weekly opinion piece by sports writers Nick Guthrie and Tom Barber.
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The pair will look at everything that's happening from the local game through to international matches during the 2023/24 season.
Five wickets for 29 runs, 6/24, 7/17.
No, it's not the fall of wickets for those struggling English batsmen at the World Cup. It's scores from the three RSL Whitney Cup matches at different points last Saturday.
Those scores are worrying at the best of times, but even more so when you consider last Saturday was the first day of two-day cricket for the season.
After choosing against playing two-day cricket last season and playing one-day and Twenty20 matches to start this campaign, the longer format in Dubbo returned in round four.
But you wouldn't have known it.
Newtown made just 50 against CYMS. Macquarie wasn't much better against Rugby and was rolled for 52. Souths showed a little fight late on but could still only manage 92 against Colts.
They're not exactly the type of scores you would expect to see on day one of a two-day game. It's meant to be the time when batters are digging in, outworking bowlers and showing patience to thrive once the fielding side tires or becomes frustrated.
Instead, each of the three sides batting first last weekend has already lost on first innings and would we be really shocked to see three outright results come Saturday night?
It wasn't just in first grade where batsmen struggled on Saturday. First innings points in three of the four RSL Pinnington Cup matches have already been awarded.
So, what's the reason for this? Is this just Dubbo cricket and the current top teams in both grades are far superior to the others? Are the pitches in Dubbo just bowler-friendly for once after a few recent spots of rain? Or is it something more?
Is it something about long-form cricket in the current climate? Does it speak about society when people want their Netflix shows right in front of them without ads while they're scrolling 30 second videos on TikTok?
The influence of Twenty20 cricket has only grown over the years. There's even competitions now like The Hundred, an English format where just 100 balls are bowled.
You can understand its growth. There's plenty of money in it with advertisers and television companies so bodies like Cricket Australia will always push it - sometimes to the detriment of competitions like the Big Bash League (BBL) - while the benefits of having a match done in the space of a few hours is a big plus on a more local level.
Just this week, Dubbo juniors Cooper Giddings and Max Richardson were playing at the NSW Combined High Schools state championships and some of the matches they played there were Twenty20s. Go back a few years and it, like so many other competitions, was purely longer one-day matches and Steve Smith, Josh Hazlewood, the late Phil Hughes and so many others put their names up in lights at that carnival.
Would Hazlewood still be the elite Test bowler we know him to be if his junior calendar was filled with much more Twenty20 cricket?
I might be entering the 'old man yells at cloud' phase of my life far too early but I'm someone who still loves watching Test cricket.
I've taken only a passing interest in the current One-Day International World Cup and the amount of attention I had the seemingly never-ending BBL last season dropped off pretty quickly.
But earlier this year when the Ashes were being played I was sitting up well into the early hours of the morning to watch some of the most engrossing moments you can have in sport.
But even Test cricket isn't safe from short-format impact. Just a few years ago there was a real push to reduce Test matches for four days. A number of Australian matches in recent years have been finished inside three days. Is that sustainable?
There was opposition to two-day cricket returning in Dubbo this summer. Not just because higher representative carnivals are purely one-day and Twenty20 matches but also because it's hard in the bush now. People are working more and might not be available to be free all day for two Saturdays in a row.
There's no denying grit and patience from batters is not what it once was. That's from Dubbo - where Mitch Bower top-scored for Colts in its chase with 85 from 81 balls last weekend - through to the international stage where the English 'Bazball' has become such a force the word was even added to the Collins dictionary this week.
For those like me, we'll always love the thought of a tactical and thorough ongoing battle but, honestly, when it comes to cricket here at home is it already time to ask 'what's the point?'.
Race for the Daily Liberal's Barry Hildebrant Medal
6 - Ben Patterson (CYMS)
4 - Ben Knaggs (CYMS), Fletcher Hyde (CYMS)
3- Thomas Nelson (CYMS), Greg Buckley (RSL), Ted Murray (Souths), Tyson Deebank (Macquarie), Mat Skinner (Newtown), Lockie Rummans (Souths)
2- Mitch Bower (RSL), Pieter Theunissen (Macquarie), Brad Cox (Colts)
1- Steve Skinner (Newtown), Marty Jeffrey (RSL), Aydan Hunt (CYMS), Yogi Chawla (Newtown)
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